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Cisco's Catalyst 6500: Ready to embrace the next wave of networking challenges

As Mark Twain supposedly wrote, ‘rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated’ – a phrase that certainly rings true for Cisco’s Catalyst 6500.

With a raft of new innovations recently announced at Cisco Live, competitors that were struggling to catch-up with the last iteration of this flagship switch have now seen their goalposts shift yet again.

The latest innovations provide Catalyst 6500 customers with the capability to evolve their network infrastructure for the coming decade's  proliferation of connected devices, growth of video traffic, cloud computing business models and increasingly mobile workforces—without requiring "rip and replace" upgrades.

So, once again, Cisco continues to deliver business-enhancing innovation and investment protection for its customers – and with a platform that many had wrongly assumed was dead. Amongst the enhancements announced were:

-          Yet another ‘industry first’ with seamless IPv4 and IPv6 support from the switch’s hardware platform
-          New network virtualisation capabilities
-          A comprehensive set of L4-7 integrated services modules and new application performance and visibility monitoring through a revamped implementation of NetFlow.

The real key though is the introduction of the highly anticipated Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series Supervisor Engine 2T, a 2-terabit card that unlocks 80 gigabits per second per slot, new feature-rich 10-gigabit and 10-Gigabit Ethernet line cards, and next-generation borderless services that provide customers with new mobility, security, network analysis and load balancing capabilities.

The new supervisor engine provides a threefold increase on throughput capability. It can also quadruple the number of devices or users that can connect to a network. For example, a single Catalyst 6500 can now support up to 10,000 mobile devices.

All new line cards and the 2 Tbps supervisor are compatible with all Cisco E-Series chassis models, offering minimal intervention to the existing Catalyst 6500 E-Series infrastructure. This compatibility prevents rip-and-replace upgrades that jeopardize a customer's network uptime and require additional personnel, expenses and time.

The video below features Kumar Srikantan, Cisco’s VP of Marketing for the Scalable Networks Business Unit, as he talks about the latest updates to the Catalyst 6500, why Cisco and our customers are so excited about them and what it means for the broader industry.  Enjoy!

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3 Things to Look for in a Service Plan

An optional service package can protect your technology investment and keep your network running

It’s happened to all of us at one time or another: A much relied upon appliance or electronic device dies the day after the warranty expires. Although annoying and frustrating, you can live a day or more without your TV, iPod, or dishwasher.

When you’re a small business, though, your network is your lifeline—it connects you to your community of customers, partners, and suppliers. Having your network go down because a key component (such as a switch, router, or storage device) has failed can cost you in lost revenue and customers as well as the price to replace the faulty equipment. By some estimates , the average financial loss due to network downtime costs companies 3.6% of their gross annual revenue.

Often, the product warranty just isn’t enough. That’s where a service plan comes in. These optional packages provide investment protection for your network and will keep it—and your business—up and running. This can be especially beneficial for small businesses that have limited or no in-house technical support.

Service packages vary in term length, coverage, and cost. Here are some things to look for when comparing plans:

Hardware replacement: When a network component fails, you want the fastest replacement possible. Look for a service plan that will deliver a replacement product the next day, at the very least; or, even better, within hours.

Software updates: Getting the latest upgrades and bug fixes keep your network devices performing at their best and reduces the risk of potential problems.

Multiple support channels: Choose a plan that provides more than one way to get the help you need, such as online chat, phone support, and a support community forum or knowledgebase.

A plan should provide comprehensive service so you get the most value from your technology investment. A service plan that keeps your network running smoothly, like Cisco Small Business Support Service, will help save you money, make employees more productive, and allow them to better serve your customers—ultimately, making your business more competitive.

What’s your experience with service plans? Share your advice with other small businesses here.

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